Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pre-Departure Check List

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Have at least 1 approved PFD onboard for each person.
An additional throwable device is required if the vessel is more than 16 feet long.
Explain the location and use of all PFDs to passengers and crew that may be new to the vessel.

Sound Producing Devices
Have a horn capable of producing a four-second blast audible for at least 1/2 mile on board. If you use portable air horn, have a spare can of air or an alternate device.
Attach a whistle to each PFD.

Lights and Shapes
Have all navigation lights as required for your boat.
Make sure all instrument lights are working.
If you intend to engage in a recreational boating activity that requires a day-shape, have the required shapes.
Have aboard a flashlight and spare batteries.

Distress Signals
Make flares, day signals, etc., accessible and ensure they are stored in a dry location.
Carry signals at all times even if not required by the Coast Guard.
Inform the crew and passengers of their location and safety rules for proper usage.

Tools and Spares
Carry a basic toolbox with tools appropriate for your boat.
Carry a box of spares including fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through-hull plugs, etc.

Fuel and Oil
Top off your fuel tanks.
If you can't, have enough fuel to provide a reasonable margin of safety for your return.
Check the engine oil and coolant levels.

Fire Extinguishers
Carry at least one fire extinguisher and make sure it is accessible. Make sure you have at least the number required by Coast Guard rules.
Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure.
Take the time to point out locations to passengers and crew.

On any powered vessel or auxiliary powered sailboat, or vessels using LPG for cooking or heat, check that all interior spaces are well ventilated before departure. If fuel smells are detected before ventilating, check after running the blowers for several minutes before starting. If odor persists, shut down the engine and look for the source of the leak.

Check to be sure bilges are reasonably dry and that pumps are not running excessively.
Clean up any spilled oil or waste in bilges to prevent overboard discharge.

Weather Forecast
Always check the weather forecast before boating.
Have a radio on board to receive weather updates.

Battery Care
If you have a dual charging system, make sure the selector switch in the proper position.
Make sure the power is on to the entire vessel.
Have aboard spare batteries for accessories such as your handheld radio, flashlight, portable navigational aid, etc.
If the batteries are rechargeable, make sure they're charged.

Docking and Anchoring
Have at least one anchor set up and bent-on to your anchor line.
Carry two or three extra dock lines in case you encounter unusual conditions dockside.
Visually inspect the lines you use for chafe or wear.
Carry at least two fenders on-board for docking or towing if required.

Rules & Documentation
Have the ship's papers, radio license, fishing permit, etc. on board.
Have the chart or charts for the area you intend to cruise in, regardless of your level of local knowledge.